British marine jailed for killing injured Taliban
December 07, 2013 - 7:16:03 am
LONDON: A British marine filmed executing a severely injured Taliban insurgent in Afghanistan was jailed for life with a minimum 10 years behind bars by a military court yesterday.
Jailing Sergeant Alexander Blackman, the first member of the British armed services in recent history to be found guilty of committing murder during an overseas operation, the judge general advocate said the court had to deal with him severely to show that battlefield crimes by UK troops would not be tolerated.
Blackman, 39, was found guilty at a court martial last month of murdering the man while deployed in southern Helmand province in 2011. The execution was inadvertently filmed on a comrade’s helmet camera.
“You treated that Afghan man with contempt and murdered him in cold blood,” Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett told Blackman during sentencing.
“By doing so you have betrayed your corps and all British service personnel who have served in Afghanistan, and you have tarnished their reputation.”
Blackman stood to attention as he was given the life sentence with the 10-year minimum by the court martial board in Bulford, southwest England.
Two fellow soldiers were acquitted earlier. The three were tried on an anonymous basis on the grounds that their safety was at risk. But Blackman’s name was disclosed on Thursday following a High Court ruling. Blackman’s trial heard that he had shot the wounded captive in the chest while quoting Shakespeare and admitting that he had broken the Geneva Convention.
The marines found the Afghan man, who was wounded in an attack by an Apache helicopter, in a field while looking for insurgents who had attacked a patrol base.
They moved him under the cover of trees, where Blackman shot him at close range with a 9mm pistol, paraphrasing a line from “Hamlet” as the insurgent convulsed and died in front of him.
“There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil, you cunt. It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us,” he told the dying man. He then turned to his comrades and said: “Obviously this doesn’t go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention.”
Blackman was an experienced soldier who had been involved in shuras, or councils, with Afghan elders. The judge rejected Blackman’s claims that he had suffered a momentary lapse of reason.
“This was not an action taken in the heat of battle or immediately after you had been engaged in a firefight,” the judge said.
“In one moment you undermined much of the good work done day in day out by British forces and potentially increased the risk of revenge attacks against your fellow service personnel.”